STOCKTON -- An old elementary school in San Joaquin County has been abandoned for around a decade but county leaders met Thursday to discuss ways to breathe new life into the space and potentially turn it into a resource center for the homeless.
“Well, here’s an opportunity to create a new environment and new possibilities with programs that would help those that have substance abuse issues, those that have the need for stability,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti.
As the homeless population continues to grow in San Joaquin County, the need for more shelter space is more urgent than ever.
“So, I envision large spring tents, almost like what the military uses,” Patti explained. “They’re large barracks. You can put several hundred people in them, bunk beds, monitored, secure, safe, 24-hour levels of engagement.”
That’s why Patti brought city and county leaders together at the old Holt Unified Elementary School to consider the possibility of turning it into a homeless shelter.
“We’ve got some offices. We’ve got large rooms that can be multi-purpose for programs to get people into transitional stages of their life,” Patti said.
The school grounds sit in the middle of farm fields that are around 15 minutes west of Stockton. Some expressed concerns about how far away the facility could be from the city center but Patti said he believes the rural location could be a benefit.
“It’s a little bit remote but it breaks the cycle of what some people are in,” he told FOX40. “Let’s get them away from the drug dealers encamped with them selling drugs.”
And even if the space doesn’t work out, Patti says seeing all the leaders in the same space with one common mission was promising.
“We’re here to find solutions,” Patti said. “We all know that there’s a problem, we all know there’s challenges. It’s time for us to take action and find the solution and a pathway that has a profound impact on what we can do here in San Joaquin County.”
Patti will be presenting the proposal in front of the San Joaquin County Continuum of Care next week to see if they think it’s a viable space to turn into a homeless shelter.